By The Numbers – 24

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #24.  104 different players have donned #24 while playing in Chicago, 49 for the White Sox and 55 for the Cubs.

Joe Crede earned a September call-up from Double A in 2000, and, wearing #24, made his major league debut on September 12, replacing Herbert Perry and going 0-1 in the Tigers 10-3 victory at Comiskey Park.  Crede appeared in 7 games, making the most of his 14 at bats, and finished with a .357 average.  Crede got another cup of coffee with the big league club in September of 2001, earning a little more playing time, but he was less successful, finishing with a .220 average in 50 at bats over 17 games.  Crede returned to the White Sox for good in July of 2002.  On August 12, he hit his first major league home run off of former teammate James Baldwin and he finished with 12 home runs, 35 RBIs, and a .285 average.  Crede established himself as the starting third baseman in 2003.  He appeared in a career high 151 games and launched 19 home runs with 75 RBIs while posting a .261 average.  He struggled in 2004, seeing his average drop to .239 while hitting 21 home runs with 69 RBIs.

In 2005, Crede started to come in to his own.  While he improved his average to .252 and hit 22 home runs with 62 RBIs, he came alive in the second half, culminating with a game winning, and possible season saving, home run in the 10th inning against the Indians on September 20, which pushed the White Sox to a 3.5 game lead and propelled them into the playoffs.  Crede had a rough series in the ALDS against the Red Sox, getting only 1 hit in 9 at bats, but rebounded in the ALCS and World Series, hitting .368 and .294 respectively, with 2 home runs in each series.  2006 was Joe Crede’s breakout season.  He hit .283 with career highs in home runs, with 30, and RBIs, with 94, winning his first, and only, Silver Slugger award.  A back injury in 2007 limited him to 47 games and only 4 home runs.  He returned with a bang in 2008, hitting a grand slam on opening day against the Twins and parlayed a good first half into his first All Star selection, but the back injury recurred and kept him out for most of the second half of the season, including the playoffs, thus ending his White Sox career.

On the north side of town, Dexter Fowler joined Cubs via trade prior to the 2015 season.  Donning #24, he ended the year with a .250 average, 102 runs scored, 46 RBIs, 17 home runs, and 20 stolen bases as the Cubs made a surprise run for the NL Wild Card.  Fowler helped propel the Cubs to the NLDS, putting up three hits, three runs scored, a home run, and a stolen base in defeating the Pirates.  In nine postseason games, Fowler batted .396 with two home runs and three RBIs, as the Cubs made it to the NLCS against the Mets.

Fowler became a free agent after the season and was unsigned into the start of spring training.  Despite reportedly agreeing to a three-year contract with the Orioles, Fowler arrived in Cubs camp and signed a one year deal.  And what a year it was.  Fowler finished the year with a .276 average, 13 home runs, 48 RBIs, and 84 runs scored as the Cubs won the NL Central.  Fowler’s .333 average with 4 RBI helped the Cubs win the NLCS against the Dodgers, advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945.  On October 25, 2016, Dexter Fowler became the first African-American to appear and to bat for the Cubs in a World Series game.  Fowler led off Game 7 of the World Series with a home run, becoming the first player in history to do so, and helping the Cubs win 8–7 in 10 innings, giving the team their first championship in 108 years.

By The Numbers – 35

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #35.  26 players have donned #35 on each side of town, including one Hall of Famer.

Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas was selected by the White Sox with the seventh pick in the first round of the 1989 draft and, a little more than a year later, he made his major league debut.  In 1991, as the White Sox moved into the new Comiskey Park, Thomas became one of the most feared hitters in the American League.  He won the MVP award in both 1993 and 1994, while leading the White Sox to their first division title since 1983.  In 1997, he earned his first batting title and notched his 7th top 10 finish in MVP voting in his first 7 full seasons.

Thomas became a full time DH in 1998 and struggled for the first time.  Injuries slowed him down in 1999, but he bounced back in a big way in 2000.  He hit .328 and set career highs with 43 home runs and 143 RBIs as the White Sox returned to the post-season for the first time since 1993.  A torn triceps cut his 2001 campaign short, and, when he returned in 2002, he was clearly no longer the offensive force he had been.  Foot injuries robbed him of most of the 2004 and 2005 seasons, and, after watching the only team he had even played for win the World Series without him, he became a free agent after the 2005 season.  His number 35 was retired by the White Sox on August 29, 2010 and he was part of the 2014 Hall of Fame class, elected on the first ballot with 83.7% of the vote.

The history of #35 on the north side of town is nowhere near as impressive.  Of the 26 players to wear the number, 4 came in 2000 alone.  While there are players I like a little more, we will go with shortstop Lennie Merullo, who was the first player to wear #35 for the Cubs, during the 1941 and 1942 seasons.  Merullo’s 7 year career was spent entirely with the Cubs.  He went 0-2 in the 1945 World Series.  His biggest claim to fame, at least to me, came off the field, as he is the grandfather of former White Sox catcher Matt Merullo.

By The Numbers – 40

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #40.  55 different players have donned #40 while playing in Chicago, 25 for the White Sox and 30 for the Cubs.

Acquired in mid-June, along with George Frazier and Ron Hassey, from the Indians in exchange for Mel Hall, Joe Carter, Don Schulze, and Darryl Banks, Rick Sutcliffe, wearing #40, quickly became the ace of the Cubs staff, going 16-1 with a 2.69 ERA in leading the Cubs to their first division title and his first Cy Young Award.  He then homered in and won Game 1 of the NLCS, the first post-season game at Wrigley Field since the 1945 World Series, before dropping the deciding Game 5 in San Diego.  A free agent after the season, Sutcliffe signed a long term deal with the Cubs.

A hamstring injury limited him to 20 starts in 1985, while arm injuries in 1986 led him to a 5-14 record with a 4.64 ERA in 28 appearances.  He bounced back in 1987, leading the league with 18 wins in 34 starts for the last place Cubs, finishing second in the Cy Young Award voting.  He went 13-14 in 1988, but did somehow manage a steal of home plate on July 29th in a victory against the Phillies.  A resurgence in 1989 helped lead the Cubs to their second divisional title, and he made one start against the Giants in the NLCS.  Recurring arm injuries caused Sutcliffe to miss most of the 1990 and 1991 seasons, with only 24 appearances between the two years, and the Cubs let him leave as a free agent following the 1991 season.

On the other side of town, Wilson Alvarez was acquired by the White Sox, along with Scott Fletcher and Sammy Sosa, for Harold Baines and Fred Manrique on July 29, 1989, making his White Sox debut on August 11, 1991 by throwing an unlikely no hitter against the Orioles at Memorial Stadium.  He made 8 additional starts for the White Sox down the stretch, finishing the year with a 3-2 record and a respectable 3.51 ERA.  1992 saw Alvarez work mostly out of the bullpen, getting only 9 starts out of his 34 appearances.  He posted a career high 1.674 WHIP, giving up 65 walks in just over 100 innings.  This led to an unfortunate 5.20 ERA, despite a 5-3 record.  In 1993, Alvarez managed to break in to the rotation full time.  Despite leading the league with 122 walks, he finished second in the AL with an ERA of 2.95 and ended up with a 15-8 record as the White Sox won the AL West title for the first time in a decade.  He was the winning pitcher in Game 3 of the ALCS, holding the Blue Jays to a single run while throwing a complete game.

Alvarez improved in 1994, earning his first (and only) All Star nod and cutting his walk total nearly in half, helped by the player strike that ended the season in August, and he finished the year with a 12-8 record and a 3.45 ERA.  When baseball returned in 1995, Alvarez struggled to regain his groove, finishing with a losing record for the first time and an ERA of 4.32.  1996 saw a nice bounce back for Alvarez.  While his ERA was still an elevated 4.22, he tied his career high with 15 wins and set career highs for innings pitched and strikeouts.  He continued to impress in 1997, putting up a 9-8 record with a 3.03 ERA by the end of July, when, with the White Sox a mere 3 games back in the standings, he, along with Danny Darwin and Roberto Hernandez, was sent to the Giants for Brian Manning, Lorenzo Barceló, Mike Caruso, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, and Ken Vining in what would become known as the White Flag Trade.

Heading Back To The LCS

FlyTheWAfter an exciting 9th inning comeback in Game 4 of the NLDS to defeat the Giants, the Chicago Cubs are headed to the NLCS for the second consecutive year.  They await the winner of the Dodgers/Nationals series and will host Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday.  The Cubs, who last appeared in the World Series in 1945, have never won an NLCS, losing in 1984, 1989, 2003, and 2015.

The Cubs last faced the Dodgers in the post-season in the 2008 NLDS, losing in a three game sweep.  They’ve never faced the Nationals in post-season play, though Nationals manager Dusty Baker led the Cubs to the 2003 NLCS.

Heading To The LCS

FlyTheWFor the first time since 2003, the Chicago Cubs are headed to the NLCS, having defeated the Cardinals in the NLDS in 4 games.  They await the winner of the Dodgers/Mets series, who will host game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday.  The Cubs, who last appeared in the World Series in 1945, have never won an NLCS, losing in 1984, 1989, and, of course, 2003.

Yesterday was also the first time in franchise history that the Cubs won a post-season series at home.  In 1907 and 1908, the team clinched their World Series victories in Detroit against the Tigers.  In 2003, the NLDS wrapped up in Atlanta, with the Cubs taking game 5 against the Braves.